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Should HGV be restricted to lanes 1-2 on 4-lane motorways?
Poll ended at Mon Dec 20, 2004 15:28
Yes - HGV should be restricted to lanes 1-2. 54%  54%  [ 7 ]
No - the existing laws for lane usage should remain unchanged. 46%  46%  [ 6 ]
Total votes : 13
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 15:28 
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I was a daily user of the M25 through Surrey and Berks (J8-J15) in 2000/2001, and have used that stretch of motorway often in the time since. It would often be a slow journey, especially if it was raining, even though the traffic volume was not particularly heavy. There seemed to be two causes for the delays:
  • Car drivers cruising at 60-65mph in Lane 3, with only small numbers of vehicles in lanes 1-2.
  • Lorries/other slow vehicles using lane 3.

It is the second of these two causes that I would like to focus on in this poll. We've all seen it - a heavily laden lorry in lane 1 slows down to about 40mph as it approaches even a gentle uphill gradient. The lorry behind him decides he can wring an extra 5mph out of his vehicle, and moves into lane 2 to overtake the one in Lane1. But then he too finds that the gradient is affecting his speed, and makes only 42mph. Ever the optimist, a third lorry decides he can pass the one in lane 2, but can manage only 45mph. As the gradient changes slightly, the speed advantage shifts between the three vehicles depending on their gearing, and the situation resembles a neck and neck horse race.

Meanwhile, the drivers of cars eager to reach their destination as quickly as possible are forced to funnel through lane 4, resulting in a backlog of traffic. Once having passed the lorries, the perception that traffic volume was heavy is revealed as false - ahead of the lorries jockeying for first place, traffic is light.

I believe it was the Labour government led by Harold Wilson in the 1960s that passed a law preventing HGV from using the outer lane on a motorway where there were three lanes. They could still use both lanes of a 2-lane motorway, such as the M1 between J5-J7 used to be, many years ago. Much to their credit, the vast majority of HGV drivers complied with this law when it was first passed. Nowadays it's less clear what is an HGV and what isn't.

With the advent of 4-lane motorways like the M25 through Surrey, I wonder if the existing law goes far enough. Every day we see lorries passing other lorries to gain an extra 1mph or even ½mph, at the expense of causing 20-30 cars behind to slow down by 20mph or more. Would it not be more fair on 4-lane motorways to ask the HGV drivers to restrict their movements to lanes 1-2 to allow faster traffic to use both lane 3 and 4?


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 15:47 
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I voted no.

I think we're at risk of creating too many regulations when we're really trying to solve different problems.

Objective: to keep traffic flowing freely.
Solution: make people more responsible for obstructing the free flow of traffic.

With the idea of banning HGVs from L3 of a four lane system we're dealing only with one small aspect of a multi-faceted problem. Why not go for gold and try to deal with the whole problem? I'm leaning towards a specific new offence of "traffic flow obstruction". See this:

http://www.safespeed.org.uk/5.17.html

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 16:16 
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I voted no.

For my twopennyworth, I think that the prime cause of the obstructions should be removed. In most cases, that would be removing the speed limiters foisted on us under Eurocracy -- the ones that restrict vehicles to 4 mph or even 14 mph below the maximum speed at which they may lawfully travel on a motorway. Many goods vehicles are capable of travelling at their speed limit. However, those limiters mean there is a barrier faster than which each of these vehicles cannot travel, no matter what the driver wants. There is a tolerance in the settings of these devices, and it is the slight variation of these that provides the "ten mile overtake".

I agree with Paul about the offence of obstruction. However, we need to be careful here because no-one should be prosecuted for obstructing traffic if they are travelling at the maximum speed permitted by law. For example, most vans have a 60 mph speed limit on dual carriageways and I would not expect to see the offence of obstruction used against a van driver who drove at 60 mph for as long as it took to pass a mile-long, nose-to-tail queue of HGVs.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 21:12 
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Vote No.

As Paul said, too many regulations already - what is needed is more traffic police to educate the inconsiderate, those who start the overtake knowing they will cause traffic to bunch up. This applies to car drivers too.

If traffic is light, then no problem with HGV overtaking in 3rd lane of 4 lane motorway as long as not likely to cause obstruction.

The more rules and regulations there are, the less people think for themselves and the less they able to adapt to changing situations.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 00:31 
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I am voting YES.

I've withheld my vote till now with an open mind, waiting to see what was posted. But I don't see anything here that makes me feel that HGV are justified in using lane 3 on a 4-lane motorway. I don't see that a change in the law to prevent HGV from using lane 3 amounts to a new regulation. It would be an amendment to an existing regulation. In the 60s, when the existing law came into force barring HGV from the outer lane, there were no 4-lane motorways. The wording of the law was that HGV were not allowed to use the outside lane. The wording could have been that the HGV could use only lanes 1-2. In those days, it would have meant the same thing, and we would not now have the situation whereby lorries cause congestion by occupying lane 3.

SCE said "If traffic is light, then no problem with HGV overtaking in 3rd lane of 4 lane motorway as long as not likely to cause obstruction." - but if traffic was light, they would not need to use lane 3.

I am not sure what the maximum speed limit is for HGV, but I think it's 60mph, or even 56mph - enforced by speed governors. I think that it is quite inappropriate that a motorway whose speed limit is 70mph should have vehicles limited to 56mph in lane 3, given that we're only supposed to overtake on the right. In this scenario, there is only one lane out of four in which traffic can cruise at the legal limit of 70mph.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 10:03 
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I voted no for a couple of reasons. I think the argument that another rule is unnecessary is made stronger because there simply isn't that much four lane motorway about. At the moment we have a very simple rule for HGVs - don't use the outside lane. Secondly, I honestly haven't seen enough HGVs in lane 3 on the M25 to think it's a real problem. Coaches, yes, since (I think) they're not fitted with limiters at the moment and get held up by the artics like the rest of us. But I feel that could be solved by removing the problem with the artics, i.e. get rid of the limiters. Frankly I think there's more of a problem on stretches of motorway that have only two lanes, like the M3 round Winchester. At certain times it ends up with one lane almost exclusively for HGVs and PSVs, and the other only occupied by cars. Again, I don't think there's any new rule that might solve this, well, not anything practical.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 10:40 
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Gatsobait wrote:
At the moment we have a very simple rule for HGVs - don't use the outside lane.

The point I was trying to make is that instead of using that wording, the wording could be modified to the even simpler "Use only lanes 1 and 2." Thus, the status quo on two and three lane motorways would be unchanged, and the amendment would affect only 4-lane motorways. I think this would be a very simple change.

SS's "obstruction of traffic" might be a good way - if it would work. The problem I see with it is that whether the new law has been broken will be open to all kinds of subjective analysis and interpretation. For example, Rule 145 of the Highway Code: Do not hold up a long queue of traffic, especially if you are driving a large or slow moving vehicle. How long is a "long queue of traffic"? Five cars? Ten cars? Twenty cars? And what is "slow moving"? Anything less than 70? 60? 40?

I prefer clear cut laws which operate on a binary basis. YES or NO. When we get into the realms of IF-THEN-ELSE-BUT-MAYBE when dealing with alleged transgressions, it's difficult to arrive at a conclusion. These are further reasons for why I voted YES.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 11:14 
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DieselMoment wrote:
Gatsobait wrote:
At the moment we have a very simple rule for HGVs - don't use the outside lane.

The point I was trying to make is that instead of using that wording, the wording could be modified to the even simpler "Use only lanes 1 and 2." Thus, the status quo on two and three lane motorways would be unchanged, and the amendment would affect only 4-lane motorways. I think this would be a very simple change.
Okay, I see what you mean, but I don't think that it's really any simpler. If we add your rule, then it's another rule and complicates things. If we substitute your rule then we allow HGVs back into the outside lane on 2 lane motorways. "Use only lanes 1 and 2" would now apply on the Winchester bit of the M3 where "do not use lane 2" is in effect now as lane 2 is the outside lane. Okay, we could change the wording by adding "... unless on a two lane motorway in which case dedoodoodoodedahdahdah", but that takes us back to another if/unless/then type rule. It's simpler to keep the existing rule and allow artics to go fast enough that they no longer interrupt the flow of other traffic. If they could overtake each other with a decent difference in speed, rather than the oneish mph difference leading to a mile long overtake manoeuvre we see now, we'd all be better off.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 11:43 
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Gatsobait wrote:
If we add your rule, then it's another rule and complicates things. If we substitute your rule then we allow HGVs back into the outside lane on 2 lane motorways. "Use only lanes 1 and 2" would now apply on the Winchester bit of the M3 where "do not use lane 2" is in effect now as lane 2 is the outside lane. Okay, we could change the wording by adding "... unless on a two lane motorway in which case dedoodoodoodedahdahdah", but that takes us back to another if/unless/then type rule.

When the law was introduced, it was simply a case of "do not use lane 3". As far as I know, HGV were always allowed to use both lanes of a two lane motorway or dual carriageway.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 11:54 
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DieselMoment wrote:
SS's "obstruction of traffic" might be a good way - if it would work. The problem I see with it is that whether the new law has been broken will be open to all kinds of subjective analysis and interpretation. For example, Rule 145 of the Highway Code: Do not hold up a long queue of traffic, especially if you are driving a large or slow moving vehicle. How long is a "long queue of traffic"? Five cars? Ten cars? Twenty cars? And what is "slow moving"? Anything less than 70? 60? 40?


You're right about the potential complexities in law. But I don't think that's really what it's about. The element that's currently missing is that many folk don't really know what's expected of them. My route isn't about prosecution (although that would come into it), it's about information; setting standards and expectations; defining what's right and what's wrong. There's nothing in current UK advice that makes holding up other people wrong except in relatively extreme cases. Current advice doesn't (for example) communicate anything clearly to the middle lane hogs.

I also agree with others that many problems are caused by HGV speed limiters.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 13:55 
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DieselMoment wrote:
When the law was introduced, it was simply a case of "do not use lane 3". As far as I know, HGV were always allowed to use both lanes of a two lane motorway or dual carriageway.

Yes, this is true, as anyone who regularly uses the M50 will be able to confirm.

Also, the outside lane ban only applies to motorways - lorries can use the outside lane of three-lane all-purpose dual carriageways such as parts of the A1 and A2.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 13:57 
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Gatsobait wrote:
Coaches, yes, since (I think) they're not fitted with limiters at the moment and get held up by the artics like the rest of us.

Coaches have been required to have limiters set at 100 km/h (62 mph) for a number of years now.

However, that's not far off an indicated 70 in many cars, so it isn't as immediately obvious as the HGV limiters.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 16:43 
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PeterE wrote:
Coaches have been required to have limiters set at 100 km/h (62 mph) for a number of years now.

I know they have governors now. I always assumed they were limited to 70mph. I never knew it was only 62mph.

Up until the 1970s, there had been no need for speed governors. The old buses of the era couldn't do 60mph. But then luxury coaches started appearing, with powerful diesel motors - and turbo charging along the way. When that started happening, it was not unusal to see such coaches belting along the motorway in lane 3 at 90mph. I feel sure that they were designed for (and were safe at) such speeds, but I think a lot of car drivers were intimidated by them.

I think those coaches should be allowed at least 70mph, but I'm not going to start another poll about it! :wink:


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 17:13 
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DieselMoment wrote:
When the law was introduced, it was simply a case of "do not use lane 3". As far as I know, HGV were always allowed to use both lanes of a two lane motorway or dual carriageway.

PeterE wrote:
Coaches have been required to have limiters set at 100 km/h (62 mph) for a number of years now.
However, that's not far off an indicated 70 in many cars, so it isn't as immediately obvious as the HGV limiters.
Fair enough, I stand corrected on both points. Now I think of it I have seen artics overtaking on 2 lane DCs, and been slightly delayed by it. Especially on the A1 on a trip to Newcastle, as I'd expected it to be 3 lanes all the way. I just hadn't seen it as a problem on the motorway, possibly because that bit of the M3 is the nearest 2 lane section to me and I don't go there very often. However, I have used the M25 a lot and at all times of day, and honestly haven't thought it was a problem as I just haven't seen that many HGVs using lane 3. Now, if you're talking about hired lutons being mercilessly thrashed to stay at 80 in lane 4, that's something else.
Didn't know about the coaches having limiters though - I wonder how often they just floor it and cruise along on the limiter.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 21:13 
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Quote:
SCE said "If traffic is light, then no problem with HGV overtaking in 3rd lane of 4 lane motorway as long as not likely to cause obstruction." - but if traffic was light, they would not need to use lane 3.


Fair point, but what if HGVs in lane 1 doing 40, being overtaken by HGVs in lane 2 doing 45, and HGV pulling empty trailer doing 56 comes along. If he can overtake in lane 3 without causing obstruction then i would have no problem with it. May be unlikely but not sure driver in lane 3 should be at risk of prosecution for taking opportunity to overtake in this situation, as long as his manoeuvre is carried out safely and with consideration.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:49 
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SCE wrote:
Quote:
SCE said "If traffic is light, then no problem with HGV overtaking in 3rd lane of 4 lane motorway as long as not likely to cause obstruction." - but if traffic was light, they would not need to use lane 3.


Fair point, but what if HGVs in lane 1 doing 40, being overtaken by HGVs in lane 2 doing 45, and HGV pulling empty trailer doing 56 comes along. If he can overtake in lane 3 without causing obstruction then i would have no problem with it. May be unlikely but not sure driver in lane 3 should be at risk of prosecution for taking opportunity to overtake in this situation, as long as his manoeuvre is carried out safely and with consideration.

OK, let's consider your scenario. In lane 1 we have A doing 40mph. Behind him, we have B doing 45mph, and an HGV pulling an empty trailer which we will identify as C.

The scenario begins with B in lane 2, but assuming traffic was light which is what we said to begin with, one assumes that B began in lane 1, some distance behind A. He's about to pull out to overtake in lane 2, but C is coming up behind at 56mph. With heavy vehicles, maintaining the momentum is important. So if I was driver of B, I think I would wait for C to go past, rather than forcing him into lane 3 - even if usage of lane 3 was still legally available for HGV. If each of the vehicles was 40ft in length, the tail of C would be 80ft behind the front of the cab of B at the moment C's cab draws level with B's tail. C is travelling 11mph faster than B, and 11mph = 16.13ft/sec. If those speeds were maintained, it would take C only a fraction under 5 seconds to pull clear of B. In reality, B might slow to 42mph in anticipation of being overtaken by C, in which case the speed differential would be 14mph = 20.53ft/sec. Now, it would take C less than 4 seconds to overhaul B. So B's sacrifice in speed would be very small, and only very brief - much better, in my opinion, than having HGV spread out over ¾ of the motorway.

But let us suppose that B does decide to go ahead and overtake A, while C is coming up behind in Lane 2. It would take about 11 secs for B to overhaul A, but let's round this up to allow for a gap between the vehicles. (We know that HGV don't maintain the 1yd/1mph rule of thumb :wink: ) Let's say it takes 15 seconds in total. C is gaining on B at 11mph = 16.13ft/sec. In the 15 seconds it takes B to overhaul A, C would have closed the gap with B by about 242ft. Assuming that each driver likes to keep a reasonable amount of space in front and behind, then even if C were only 100 yards behind B at the time B pulls into lane 2 to overtake A, B could complete the overtaking manoeuvre and be back in lane 1 without C having to slow down at all.

As you can see, requiring HGV to use only lanes 1 and 2 would be a small price to pay to improve overall motorway throughput, and is a price worth paying to avoid seeing HGV side by side occupying lanes 1, 2 and 3 at 45mph - a daily occurrence on motorways like the M25 through Surrey.

<edit @ 17:33 on 15/12> - speed difference between C and B is 11mph, not 9mph in my earlier figures. I have made the necessary corrections.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 16:24 
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I've voted yes. The compelling argument for me is that with HGVs/LGVs limited to 56mph, there is only one lane on a 4 lane motorway exclusively for non-speed limited vehicles. That's 25% of the roadspace compared to 33% on a 3 lane motorway.

I'd change my mind if the limit for LGV's was raised.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 18:59 
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I have just returned from a second visit to Germany. I took my own car. The round trip involved travel through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands! So I was able to see a variety of traffic laws and driving styles in practice.

I continue to be favourably impressed by German motorways. We went right down to Lake Constance and therefore covered hundreds of miles in Germany alone, and we were able to travel very fast with no delays of any kind.

I attribute this to three things.

(1) In many cases, lorries are restricted to Lane 1 only!! There will be electric signs on the overhead gantry, indicating that lorries may NOT overtake in Lane 2.

(2) In many cases, there is no speed limit.

(3) Largely because of (1) and (2), much of the German motorway network has 2-lane motorways. When the traffic is allowed to flow freely because of (1) and (2) above, a third lane seems unnecessary.

Germany gets a big :thumbsup: for its road transport policy!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 21:14 
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Sitting on fence on this one -problem is not directly caused by HGV (as witnessed in days pre regulation of speed ) ,but by narrow minded officialdom in this country ,too timid to make thecase to the EU that UK road experts should define speed on UK roads for all vehicles.Just weait till the next batchof regulated vehicles hits the road -like some vans now limited to 70 -

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